Protecting your rabbits from predators is one of the most important reasons to build your own rabbit hutch. Even if your pet lives indoors, your rabbit can be stalked or injured by pet cats and dogs. Even mice in the house may stress your pet.
Outside, rabbits face many more possible predators. Hawks, eagles, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, weasels and skunks may like a tasty rabbit dinner. Cats and dogs are also at risk for attacking your pet. They can't help it; it is their nature to hunt and rabbits are prey animals at the bottom of the food chain.
It falls to the owners of the animals to keep them safe; or in the case of the dogs and cats, to keep them contained and away from rabbits and other animals they may hunt.
You can do a lot to protect your pet by building a secure rabbit hutch. Putting the hutch on legs helps get them off the ground where they are more tempting to smaller predators. You can even wrap the legs with chicken wire or hardware cloth to keep animals from going beneath the hutch. You can easily open one side when it is time to clean up the droppings unless you use a tray.
Make sure that when you build your own rabbit hutch that it is built securely. Use strong wood screws when building it, not brads or small nails. Wood screws bite into the wood and don't work loose as easily as nails and brads. Use high quality wood and wire. Thick plywood and 2 x 4s will create a much stronger hutch than thin plywood and 1 x 1s.
While the second choice is much lighter, it is easier for larger predators to break into the hutch. Wire should be heavy duty 14 gauge welded wire mesh, not hardware cloth or chicken wire. Heavy duty wire will be sturdy enough to withstand all but the most determined large predators.
Secure your wire to the cage with heavy duty staples that go into the wood at least half an inch. You can further secure the wire by adding a layer of wooden trim on top of the wire so it is framed in place.
All openings to the hutch should be latched securely. If the roof lifts off, fasten it with hinges and a latch. The door should also be attached with hinges and a secure latch. If the entire front is wire, including the door, attach the door using J clips or hog rings instead of hinges. The cage clasp may need to be reinforced with a loop of chain and a lock to keep predators from springing the clasp.
Put the hutch in a place where you can easily see the rabbits or near the house where the presence of people may help deter other animals. At the same time, you need to think about how much sun your chosen spot receives so your rabbit does not get overheated.
You'll rest easy, knowing your pet is safe from the neighborhood predators. It is best to take these precautions when you build your own rabbit hutch, even if you live in town. Many smaller predators, like raccoons, opossums, and skunks have moved into residential areas.
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